I don’t believe in imposing your own standards on your child.
Your child is not a mini-me. Sure they might look like you, they’re raised by you and you raise them the best way you know how, but they’re not you. They might be raised with your values, your religion, your interests, but at some point their inner self will want to come forward and develop and might take them in a different direction. That’s okay.
I love writing, I love art, I love dancing, I love films. These are the things that make me happiest and things I love. They are things I would love to share the joy of with Miss Rose as she grows and I would take immense pleasure in seeing her do. But if she wants to play football (which would make The Boy extremely happy), or is into science (which would make her Unky Deek extremely happy), or loves playing an instrument (which would make her Aunty Meme extremely happy), then I shall throw myself full throttle into supporting her and encouraging her in that. Because she is Miss Rose, she is not a Mini Jude.
I have no religion, she might find one that suits her. I have no political affiliation, she might become passionately involved in one party. Whether I like or don’t like any of these, I will love her equally.
My one main requirement of her?
Don’t be an asshole.
So much focus is put on achievements. Successes and awards. To be happy, to make your family proud, be smart, get good grades, get a good job, and earn lots of money. Don’t get me wrong, if that is Miss Rose I shall be immensely proud. It is something I never was able to accomplish. But that is not the be all and end all.
By putting so much focus on academic accomplishments we are missing out focus on personality. Soul if you like.
Do well in school? Great but don’t be a dick about it.
Achieve an amazing and highly paid job? Fabulous but treat people with respect.
Earn loads of money? Wonderful but please be kind.
So many people are out there making their families proud and earning fortunes but are total assholes, and yet their successes are valued so much their personality is forgiven.
For Miss Rose, being an asshole is the thing I would not forgive. It is the thing I would tell her she needs to work on. I would always call her out on it.
As a toddler she can behave badly and she is told. If she shoves other children she is reprimanded. If she screams “NOW!” at me after a request (which is a new phenomenon I am not taking kindly to), she is forbidden from having whatever it is she asked for. If she has a screaming fit after being prevented from doing something, she is ignored until she calms down.
Basically, if she exhibited the equivalent behaviour as an adult, treating others with contempt, expecting everything right NOW, having a rage if things don’t go her way, then she would be considered an asshole. As a child I can intervene, as an adult it is harder. But I would. It would not be overshadowed by her accomplishments, it would not be forgiven because of her successes.
Being good can take time and it can take work, but not only does it mean you’re not an asshole, I truly believe that with it will come happiness.
Treating people like crap will mean you’re surrounded by people who despise you, because nobody likes being treated that way. Humans are not supposed to be alone in the world. We thrive as a species in communities. We crave, on a biological level, the love of other humans.
If Miss Rose grows to be good. To be kind, to be tolerant, to be honest, to be understanding and compassionate, she will draw people to her who love her. People who will treat her well and value her. She might not grow to have a mass of success or money, but she will be loved, and will be accepted.
To be loved and accepted by other humans is something so many of us lack, but those of us who have it are the happiest of all.
Miss Rose is a very smart little girl and I see a great deal of success in her future. She is driven, she is determined and she is strong. These are things I value in her a great deal and things I celebrate daily. Hourly. She is funny, she is a performer, and she is a leader. I have no worries about what she will be able to achieve and I will support her and encourage her every step of the way.
But I will always, always say: Don’t be an asshole. By not being an asshole you will have the greatest success of all.
You can check out all my contact info an links on www.jjbarnes.co.uk, I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so you can get in touch on there, as well as find links to all my work. There’s also www.sirenstories.co.uk which has all the work by both myself and Jonathan McKinney and loads of extra content such as background stories for different characters. If you want to subscribe on Patreon, its just $1 a month to help support our work and it also grants you access to our extra podcast a week, you can go to www.patreon.com/sirenstories.
Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!